Asia Rugby has today announced with great regret the cancellation of the Asia Rugby Division III East in its current format, which was initially scheduled for the 1st and 4th November, 2017 in Vientiane, Laos.
While Asia Rugby had exhausted various options to provide a Division III competition in 2017, it is through no fault of our host union, the Lao Rugby Federation, that the Championship will not proceed under both its previously scheduled 4-team format and subsequently, a one-off fixture versus another appropriate international team.
Asia Rugby is however pleased to announce, that despite all of the issues faced by the Lao Rugby Federation, Saturday 4th November, 2017 at the Chaoanuvong Stadium will see the reincarnation of the Mekong Cup featuring the DAC Lao National Team taking on its neighbours and perennial rivals, Thailand in a full international rugby fixture. Coupled with the main game, the Lao Rugby Federation will also host U16 and U17 matches in its Champa Ban Championship, featuring teams from across Laos and a ChildFund Pass It Back U16 Tag competition featuring Lao and Vietnamese All Star Teams.
The Regional Association cited a variety of factors for the decision not to proceed with the Asia Rugby Championship Division III East, but the primary concern was the unfortunate late withdrawals by two of our full World Rugby members; first Indonesia and then Guam. This was then coupled by the fact that a potential replacement union, Brunei, was also unable to attend at the last moment.
These factors have placed the 2 remaining unions – Laos and Pakistan – in a potentially serious situation regarding compliance and Asia Rugby is extremely apologetic to both unions for the stress that these withdrawals have placed on their national teams, their unions and their stakeholders.
Realising the importance of international competitions for union development, Asia Rugby Exco has already agreed to increase the window for withdraws from six weeks to eight weeks for 2018 in an effort to prevent such circumstances re-occurring again in the future. The matter shall also be brought to the attention of all our members at the upcoming Council Meeting in November.
The ARC Division III Championship was to be for the many local rugby fans and the long-serving sponsors of the Lao Rugby Federation, a week-long festival of rugby and a highlight of the Lao Rugby calendar.
Asia Rugby is extremely cognisant of the support of key stakeholders and sponsors involved with the Lao Rugby Federation and we are very appreciative of everyone’s patience and understanding throughout the last four weeks of continual change and uncertainty.
Asia Rugby wishes both teams, Laos and Thailand, the very best of luck in their quest for Mekong Cup glory and we remain committed to providing regional competition for our member unions on a regular basis based on unions’ needs and their capacity to host/participate.
Asia Rugby is hopeful that the Asia Rugby Championship will once again return to the shores of the Mekong in the not too distant future.